NCAA FB

RICHARDS: When recruiting receivers and cornerbacks, bigger is better

Share This Story

Darryl Richards

 
   
 
Offensive and defensive coordinators are running out of real estate in their never-ending battle to outdo one another. Spread offenses attempt to make defenses feel like they are covering the Ponderosa. Defenses that use eight and nine men in the box have made running lanes like rush hour traffic in midtown Manhattan. With every inch of the actual field accounted for in some way, coordinators are now looking up for help. There was a time when "going vertical" meant throwing deep passes and stretching defenses. These days it also means using athletic and tall receivers to just go up and bring down the ball. It can be seen each weekend when big receivers such as Stanford's Teyo Johnson, Washington State's Mike Bush and Tennessee's Kelley Washington haul in passes on fade routes or just use their body to hold off defenders and then jump up for a pass like Karl Malone for a rebound. Johnson and Bush should know. Both play varsity basketball for their schools. The trend can be seen in recruiting where finding tall receivers who can jump and catch underthrown passes are becoming a priority. "I'd say that about two-thirds of the wide receivers coming out these days are over six feet tall," FOXSports.com recruiting expert Bobby Burton said. "I think receivers have developed over the years and you find 6-4 or 6-5 guys who can really run. With all the controlled passing games out there, they are able to use their size to an advantage. Especially on routes like a slant." That's not to say there is no place for shorter and quick receivers anymore. Five receivers under 6 feet were among the top 10 in receiving yards in the nation last season. But the numbers are dwindling from the late '80s and early '90s when the Run-and-Shoot was in style. But coaches and quarterbacks love their tall receivers. Bush had 45 receptions for 913 yards and nine touchdowns. Michigan State's Charles Rogers was seventh in the nation in receptions. Just think about how many times a receiver such as Texas' Roy Williams, Washington freshman Reggie Williams or Michigan wideout Marquise Walker made the highlights by rising to the occasion. Even if a taller receiver does not get the ball in the red zone, his mere presence forces defenses to make adjustments. "There is not much a team can do if your guy can really jump," Washington State coach Mike Price said. "If they try to go to a zone and use the safety, then you can run the ball." The strategy makes sense when you look at the evolution of college football. Ask any old-timer the difference between today's football players and the athletes of yesteryear and nearly all will mention the BFS -- bigger, faster and stronger factor. That is true in nearly every position but one according to coaches. "If you look at the last 25 years, every position has grown except for cornerbacks," Alabama defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said. "Most great receivers are now about 6-3. You can be a great cornerback at 5-10." The solution seems so simple. Find bigger cornerbacks to jump up with these big receivers. But big cornerbacks are a true commodity in college football. A 6-3 athlete may be able to run with anybody on the field, but can he run and cover quick receivers? Can he react quickly and turn directions? Chances are he can't. Which is why a 6-3 defensive back in high school is more likely to be a safety than a cover corner. There are exceptions such as UCLA freshman Matt Ware, a 6-3 cornerback who led the Bruins in interceptions with five. A look at the eight teams in Bowl Championship Series games shows that teams are lucky to have one cornerback over 6 feet. Oregon benefited the most from the presence of 6-1 Steve Smith, who had three interceptions against Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. Burton said finding big cornerbacks might be right under a recruiter's nose. But there are no guarantees for success. "Right now, the next great cornerback is playing wide receiver or running back or safety in high school," Burton said. "The reality is there are very few true cornerbacks in high school." Coaches are more willing to sacrifice height than sacrifice quickness at cornerback. So coaches look for speed at cornerback and look for other ways to compensate for the lack of height. Texas coach Mack Brown had one of the best in senior Quentin Jammer, who is 6-1. "We really look for strong guys with a good vertical jump and long arms," Brown said. "You can make some plays on the ball if you have long arms. And if he is strong enough, he can be physical with the receiver and slow him down. Quentin had great arms." Check out Miami and Oklahoma for the great big receiver, big cornerback battle of the future. Miami has commitments from Ryan Moore, a 6-4 receiver from Orlando and Akieem Jolla, a 6-2 receiver from New Orleans. Moore is the top-ranked receiver in the country by Rivals100 and Jolla is seventh. Oklahoma has commitments from 6-0 corner Jason Carter and 6-1 Micheal Hawkins. Carter, who is from Jenks, Okla., is the fifth-rated cornerback. Hawkins, a 6-1 defensive back from Carrollton, Texas, is ranked seventh. "It's one of our biggest dilemmas in coaching," Alabama coach Dennis Franchione said. "If you have a big receiver, you have a chance to make some big plays. If you have a big cornerback who can really run and defend that receiver, you are blessed."
Tagged: Wake Forest, Michigan, Michigan State, Kent State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State, UCLA, Oregon, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Roy Williams, Quentin Jammer

More Stories From Darryl Richards

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash